03/02/2020 | Dan van Holst Pellekaan MP

Storm damage to transmission lines near the Heywood interconnector on the Victorian side of the border highlights the critical importance of the proposed SA-NSW interconnector.

The damage will leave South Australia disconnected from the eastern states for up to a fortnight.

At approximately 2:30pm on Friday the 31st of January, transmission towers in Victoria owned by AusNet Services were damaged in a storm, leading to loss of the Heywood interconnector between SA and Victoria. AusNet Services have indicated that the restoration of the towers may take a fortnight.

“Whilst AEMO has indicated there should be sufficient electricity in the system in the next fortnight, the loss of the Heywood interconnector has again exposed the lack of system strength that leaves South Australia vulnerable,” said Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

AEMO has reconfigured the network to enable South Australia to assist with electricity supply to the Alcoa Aluminium Smelter in Portland in Victoria through the smaller MurrayLink interconnector. Without that support, the smelter may suffer irreparable harm.

With South Australia and Portland in Victoria islanded from the National Electricity Market, AEMO will direct generators at times to manage system security and ensure system strength.

AEMO has advised that there is sufficient power supply forecast for the week ahead in South Australia, and that they will continue to monitor conditions.

“South Australians know too well the damage that can be done to South Australia’s power system from storms because the former Labor Government allowed the electricity system’s security to erode.

“Until the second interconnector with NSW is delivered, South Australia will remain vulnerable to shocks to the system such as Friday’s storm.

“With the SA-NSW interconnector, we would not be in this current situation.

“The State Government is committed to turning around the mess that we inherited from Labor. That’s why the Government is accelerating the interconnector with early works funding to Electranet and Transgrid to get it built as soon as possible.

“Labor have opposed all the key actions needing to be taken to turn around this situation.

“Labor oppose the interconnector, have criticised the early works to accelerate it and have criticised the installation of the synchronous condensors that AEMO deem necessary for system strength.

“This current situation shows what a dangerous and irresponsible position Labor have adopted. Labor have not learnt from their mistakes.

“AEMO, who know from experience what it takes to keep the lights on in South Australia, have listed the SA-NSW Interconnector as a Priority 1 project in the national transmission plan, and deemed it a “no-regrets” measure.

“The SA-NSW Interconnector was recently approved by the Australian Energy Regulator.”